Ideas, entities and Aleister Crowley

By Barry Kavanagh, 17 October 2000

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I saw you on a TV programme called XXXTripping, where you were talking about magic. Now, it was all very fast cuts but you seemed to be saying that on one hand magic was ideas and secondly, spirits and entities was a second interpretation. I mean, [are] these all the one thing?

I’d say that, entities are a kind of compound idea, at least as far as I see them. And I do see them occasionally but they seem to me to be some sort of compound idea form. But it might be an idea – and this is just a mad, hippie, did-too-much-acid-in-the-’60s kind of theory but -if you could get an idea that was complex enough, self-referential enough, could it become aware? They say that awareness is an emergent property of complexity. Could that be true on a purely immaterial level, about ideas? If you had a complex enough idea form, could it become aware? Could you have things that were ideas but were alive? I mean, I’ve certainly encountered things that seem to be ideas but act as if they’re alive. I’m not saying that they are, I’m not saying that they’re not just some projection of me, that’s also quite possible, I wouldn’t want to rule that out but they pretend not to be. [Laughs] They appear to be something else. That is the way that my magic tends to go. When I first beame initiated into magic, which was by an event, a spontaneous event, rather than in any organization, that was the way that my thoughts seemed to be going on the subject: that actually, awareness is a space, mind can be looked at as a space and that space may be inhabited. There might be entities that are indigenous to that space. Flora and fauna of the mental realm, which I think is more than enough to explain all the demons, angels and chimera and UFO grey aliens and elves, leprechauns, pixies of all of our human culture.

How far back does your interest in Aleister Crowley go? You quoted
him in V for Vendetta

Yeah. I found out that, apparently, the first date that I give in Watchmen, the 12th of October, is Crowley’s birthday. I didn’t know that at the time. My real interest in Crowley, i.e. in actually reading his books, thoroughly – and yes, I’ve got a signed Crowley as well – that only goes back to ’94 when I became seriously interested in magic but obviously, I’d known about Crowley ever since I was twelve, when I had my spate of reading Dennis Wheatley occult paperbacks and being told that Aleister Crowley was the wickedest man in the world. There are references to Crowley in V for Vendetta, there’s references to Faust, the magical motto of John Faust [in chapter five].

There’s little things that reminded me of Crowley. The “two faces of anarchy” in V for Vendetta, the destroyer followed by the creator. Crowley [or Frieda Harris] wrote something in his [or their] instructions for the [Thoth] tarot, in reference to one of the cards [2 of Wands: Dominion], “destruction… is the first step in the creative process,” which is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

Obviously, if you’re going to be doing something new, then to a degree you’re destroying – [Laughs] – whatever preceded it.

Yeah, also you could read Alexander the Great as a destroyer and a creator. I kind of saw all that connecting, going through your books.

Well probably, they were more intuitive. Like, when I worked Crowley into From Hell as a small boy, I had some guy from the Californian branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis talking to me and he was sort of saying “Oh, I thought that was really good, the way you have Crowley sucking the candy cane, because that’s obviously a reference to the sign of silence,” and I thought “Yeah! I guess it is!” because I just hadn’t thought of that.

It’s more like I knew you were interested in Crowley so I went back and reading your older stuff, I just found it there, these ideas. So, I didn’t expect –

– I tell you, I’ve had lot of these ideas longer than I think I’ve

Yeah, that’s what I mean.

Like, I’d have sworn that my interest in Jack the Ripper started in 1988 but then when my mum died and we went through her house, we found a big suitcase in which there was a load of old books and comics and things that I’d had when I was a kid, including two or three centrefolds from The Sunday Mirror, which were dealing with Jack the Ripper and I’d obviously clipped them for some reason. I didn’t remember doing it but obviously I’d had an interest in Jack the Ripper from the age of about twelve or thirteen. So I guess that these kind of themes, these ideas, they probably run all the way through our lives like a kind of developing music, that the basic kind of chord patterns are there right from the beginning, probably, but they just become more elaborate, or more penetrating or more deeper.

You “get around” to them, probably.


You work through something else and then it’s time to pick up a loose end…?

Something like that.

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